Resolving branch IT issues

Resolving branch IT issues

Every call to the IT help desk is important and calls are often from branches and the reasons vary - everything from day-to-day issues, or problems experienced following branch equipment upgrades. Whatever the reason, our priority is to get you up and running as quickly as possible to ensure you can serve your customers who rely on you. We also closely monitor which branches are down, why this has happened and how long they have been affected to see what lessons can be learned.

To better support you, we have recently set up a Branch Availability Management Team responsible for escalating and prioritising issues when there has not been a timely fix or when a bespoke solution is required. The team manage the relationship between Postmasters and branch teams and our IT suppliers - their sole role is to ensure they identify and resolve any branch IT issues efficiently and effectively.

Heading up the new team is Sree Balachandran. Sree has worked in agency branches and knows what it’s like to be in branch when issues occur and take longer than usual to resolve.

We spoke to Sree to find out more.

Sree, tell us about the team?

The team were established at the end of March 2018. We are the key contact for Postmasters and branch teams who may be experiencing issues at their branch, where customer service is severely impacted.

I work with colleagues Debbie, Mike and Ash (pictured) - we look after all 11,500 branches. Together we have 80 years of Post Office experience both in branch and in our Customer Service Centres and I feel I have a good understanding of how our branches operates and what people need from us, to deliver the service their customers need.

We work closely with our Post Office field teams and our suppliers in ATOS, ComputaCenter, Verizon and Fujitsu. We prioritise branches which experience significant service issues so that we can restore services quickly to customers.

What issues do you deal with?

All branches call the IT helpdesk to report issues and the service desk will try remotely to fix the problem quickly, but sometimes this is not always possible and an engineer may need to visit.

Our team deal with the trickier issues. We get involved if high impacting incidents are not resolved in a timely manner. We then liaise directly with the branch and we provide our mobile number. If service is disrupted, regular contact with Post Office is essential to keep the team updated and supported so that they can also keep their customers informed.

We work with our suppliers to resolve the issue and get the branch up and running as soon as we can.

We also find that some people like to try to fix things themselves, especially straightforward and simple things. So in July, a laminate was sent to every branch to help with some basic troubleshooting. If that doesn’t assist, then all IT issues must be logged with the IT helpdesk (0330 123 0778) and a reference number is given.

What type of things are you responding to?

We receive between 40 and 50 calls per day, plus high volumes of outgoing calls to resolve issues from faulty equipment, telephone issues including ceased lines, line and broadband faults, problems configuring new equipment, plus connectivity issues including Intermittent and slow service.

Some of our remote branches suffer from network connectivity issues and have to operate on a wireless signal. We are installing satellite technology and high performing antennae to improve signal strength as we want to provide a reliable service across the UK.

What is a common issue that the team are contact about?

Changing broadband provider causes many problems. Our Horizon system will only work on Post Office ordered broadband, it doesn’t work effectively with other providers, causing a problem called a “slammed line”. We have to unravel the situation. The new broadband needs to be cleared from the line and TalkTalk broadband reinstated, which takes time.

What feedback are you getting from branches?

Postmasters and branch teams appreciate the help and support and the fact that they have our mobile number, so they can get regular updates.

To improve reporting and how we communicate with our branches we are also piloting a new tool that will be available via a mobile app or device, which will help us interact directly and easily with the people running and working in our branches. This should be rolled out across the network later this year.